A visit to Silent Disco vs Retro Gaming aka #SEGASkyBar, Sunday 30th August 2015 gives a new experience in gaming to Darren Browne aka on Twitter @kingmonkey25
As a fan of retro gaming I'm always on the lookout for anything in the capital that takes my fancy and a few weeks ago I stumbled across a Bank Holiday ‘retrotainment’ event organised by a group called REZtron. The event was being held at The Attic Bar on the 48th floor of Pan Peninsula in Canary Wharf, London, an area usually associated with finance and home to the headquarters of many major banks such as Citigroup, Barclays and J.P. Morgan. The event description offered stunning 360 degree views of London, a bunch of Sega consoles and Silent Disco so how could I not go?!
The event started at 8pm so the Sun was setting leaving an illuminated London night sky whilst inside a mixture of UV & neon lighting completed the ambience for the event. Myself and a friend arrived just after 8pm and upon arrival were issued with some Silent Disco headphones but my attention had already been drawn to 2 huge projections on the ceiling - one a 2-player split-screen game of Sonic 2, the other being X-Men vs Street Fighter on the Dreamcast, a great use of space negating the need to have huge plasma TVs everywhere and was a great visual impact.
My friend went and ordered our cocktails at the bar whilst I sat down to play on the Master System on our table - an ample selection of games were available so I started with Wonderboy and once my friend returned, 2-player Double Dragon - I must admit I didn't recall the sprite flicker being so bad when playing it in 2-player mode as a kid though!
We finished our drinks and had a wander to see what else was on offer and quickly found a Dreamcast running The House Of The Dead 2 with light gun controllers – sold! I would've been quite happy to stay on there for 30mins but after a few games we decided to let the others who had gathered around to have their turn and ventured back to the bar!
One thing that warrants its own mention is Silent Disco – the headphones you are given can be tuned to 1 of 2 different channels, each plays a different track and the headphones illuminate red or blue depending on which channel you select and you then get to look around and see if others share your tastes or you can just simply judge them based on knowing the track they are enjoying a bit too much! It’s perfect for such an event as it means the video game music isn't drowned out and you can also hold conversations with people without having to shout or go outside keeping it sociable. My personal highlight was watching everyone silent head-banging to GNR’s classic Paradise City!
My friend and I decided to take a break from the games, appreciate our Silent Disco 'phones a little more and enjoy the simple entertainment that comes from watching strangers dancing and singing out loud in a relatively quiet bar! It was a great experience to be able to play these games in a more social way than I did when I played them the first time around and I think there were lots of people experiencing some of the games and older systems for the first time - a fantastic way to keep the memory of Sega's finest years alive!
Basically if you love Sega and live in London you have to experience one of these events!
Whilst at the event I managed to chat to the Creative Director of REZtron, Logan Gunasingham, who was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few questions:
1) When was Reztron founded and who makes up the team?
REZtron was founded in June 2013. We're Graham, Logan and Tony with photography from Krij & Kaj who work together to put out the retrotainment.
2) What made you think of doing such events?
Purely came out of the fact that SEGA hasn't been in the console race for nearly 15 years so we wanted to give some 80s/90s SEGA nostalgia to the people who grew up with these pioneering consoles as a form of 'retrotainment' ,i.e a social out of home experience within a bar/club environment. The other intention was to load some excitement back into the London nightlife...
3) Where have the Reztron events been in London to date?
We work on a pop-up basis and have venues in Shoreditch (where we started out!), Clapham, Mayfair and Canary Wharf where we put on regular (and special!) events. Each venue has something extraordinary about them and has been carefully selected to suit our brand and our retrotainment. We recently started mixing Retrogaming with Silent Disco which allows our guests to select the various genres of music throughout the night whether it's 80s, 90s or even gaming soundtracks.
We do these as special weekend events at venues such as the Sunborn Super Yacht and The Attic, London's highest DJ bar. On top of public events we have also hosted many corporate/private events for the likes of Sports Interactive (SEGA), Vype Social, Natural Motion Games and also have partnered up with some exciting projects such as BIMA Awards, curating on the Art of Gaming exhibition with Space Studio, Hyper Japan and Sub Audio Festival (UK's first ever dedicated Silent Disco Festival)
4) Are you planning on doing anything with Nintendo hardware in the future?
We would never rule it out but SEGA seems to have that sex appeal with our 'retro futuristic' surroundings so it works really well as a form of nightly retrotainment.
Event review by Darren Browne aka on Twitter @kingmonkey25